Best museums in Copenhagen: Get your cultural fix in the Danish capital

Over the past two decades or so, Copenhagen has emerged as one of Europe’s finest centers of culture. It’s the king in this instance if we look at things from a Danish perspective, though Aarhus could arguably give it a run for its money. One area the city excels in is museums, so today we’re going to bring you the best museums in Copenhagen.

Copenhagen has a broad range of institutions that are well worth a detour, and the best thing about them is that the majority are in close proximity to one another. For the most part, you won’t need to escape the city’s beautiful urban core.

But because the Danish capital has so many excellent museums, narrowing down the best can be a challenge if you’re not familiar with the city. If you find yourself in this boat, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered.

In this article, we’ve narrowed down (as much as we possibly can) the best museums in Copenhagen. We’ll talk about what you can see there, along with how much they cost — and more.

What kind of museums are there in Copenhagen?

When you come to Copenhagen, one thing that will strike you almost instantly is the diversity you’ll find in experiences. And when it comes to museums, this is no different. Throughout the capital, you’ll find a broad range of places designed for different interests.

Art museums in Copenhagen are plentiful, and you’ll find captivating modern art jaunting alongside more timeless and traditional pieces of work. If you want to learn more about Denmark, you can also do that with various museums dedicated to the country’s history in general — plus others that showcase why it has managed to create such a strong design legacy.

Away from that, you’ll find various other museums in Copenhagen that cover a wide range of subjects — from the city itself to society and more.

Keep in mind that most museums in Copenhagen are closed on Mondays.

Do you have to pay to enter museums in Copenhagen?

For the most part, museums in Copenhagen warrant an entry fee. The good news, though, is that these are typically not too expensive.

Many museums have particular days of the week when you can visit for free, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for those and checking before you go there. If you plan on visiting multiple places in one day, you can save money by using the Copenhagen Card — which grants access to several institutions throughout the city.

To determine whether the Copenhagen Card is worth buying, the website has a handy calculation tool where you can find out for yourself. Prices vary depending on the time period you choose; tickets are available for 24-120 hours.

If you’re traveling with kids, many places will offer reduced or free ticket prices. You can also get a discount if you’re over 60 years old in many places, and the same goes for students (you’ll need to show a valid student ID card for this to count, though).

Another way you can save money when visiting museums in Copenhagen is to participate in the annual Culture Night. For one Friday evening each year, you can view a broad selection of cultural events dotted throughout the city. The Culture Night usually takes place in October.

On Culture Night, you can visit hidden parts of museums and other institutions that usually aren’t open to the public. You’ll need to buy a pass; 7-Eleven stores throughout the city sell these, as do various kiosks, libraries, and so on.

Okay, so we’ve covered the basics of visiting museums in the Danish capital. It’s about time that we started looking at the best museums in Copenhagen now, isn’t it?

Below are our top picks. 

Statens Museum for Kunst — The National Gallery of Denmark

Known locally as SMK, the National Gallery of Denmark is located not far from the iconic Rosenborg Castle. It’s on the borders of the inner city and Østerbro.

When you enter the gallery, you’ll find works of art from several periods in time. Many are from Denmark, but you can also find paintings from other parts of Europe and further afield.

Throughout the year, SMK holds various temporary exhibitions. The museum also holds workshops for children and much more. If you visit on what is known as “SMK Fridays”, you can enjoy free entry. Otherwise, tickets cost 125 Danish Kroner for adults and 95 DKK for young adults between 18 and 27 years old.

Everyone under 18 goes for free; if you’re going with a child, you’ll pay 100 DKK. Group tickets for 10 or more people cost 110 DKK; all tickets can be purchased online.

If you plan to stay in Copenhagen for the long run and want to visit SMK regularly, you can purchase annual passes starting at 295 DKK. Tickets for individuals, companies, and couples are available.

Glyptoteket

One of the must-see art museums in Copenhagen is Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, better-known among locals as Glyptoteket. It’s located not far from the main train station and Tivoli, so you’ll have no problems finding it.

Glyptoteket features tens of thousands of sculptures and other pieces of art from several countries across the globe. Its interior is a favorite with photographers and feels like something straight out of Athens.

During school holidays, the Carlsberg Glyptotek museum in Copenhagen holds various activities for children. If you want to learn more about the museum with the help of an expert, you can book a guided tour.

Entry tickets cost 115 DKK for adults and 85 DKK for people under 27, along with students who bring their ID. Group tickets cost 60 DKK, and people under 18 go for free. Season tickets cost 275 DKK; like SMK, you can buy tickets online.

If you visit Glyptoteket on Tuesdays, you can get free admission.

The National Museum of Denmark

If you’re looking to learn more about Denmark as a country, the National Museum of Denmark is the best place to do so. This sizable institution is located in the heart of Copenhagen, not far from the picturesque city hall.

At the National Museum of Denmark, also known as “Nationalmuseet”, you’ll find a whole range of exhibitions and artifacts throughout Danish history. If you want to join a guided tour, you’ll also have the opportunity to do that.

The National Museum in Copenhagen also has a restaurant that features several Danish dishes, including classics like smørrebrød. So, if you’re looking to whet your appetite with some traditional local food, there are worse places to go.

If you want to visit the National Museum, you’ll be pleased to learn that it’s pretty affordable. Tickets for adults cost 110 DKK, and children aged under 18 go for free. You can purchase tickets online or at the museum.

The Danish Architecture Center

Denmark’s impact on the global design scene is unprecedented, and various major brands — such as HAY — have made their mark by combining function and aesthetics. The best place to learn about all of this is the Danish Architecture Center (DAC), which is located in — ironically — one of the country’s best examples of innovative modern architecture.

At the DAC, you’ll find several exhibitions related to living well and much more. The museum is particularly child-friendly, with an outdoor playground that’s free of charge — plus several activities to keep them entertained.

The DAC also has a trendy café where you can grab something to eat or drink — along with enjoying a unique view of Copenhagen and the harbor. You can book a combined ticket that enables access to the center — plus a table at the café — for 225 DKK.

Tickets to the DAC cost 115 DKK for adults and 60 DKK for young adults aged between 18 and 25. If you’re a student, you can buy your ticket for the same rate. Children under 18 go for free.

Museums In Copenhagen
Credit: Maria Eklind

Louisiana Museum for Modern Art

One of the undisputed best museums in Copenhagen and its surrounding areas is the Louisiana Museum for Modern Art. Located in Humlebæk, which is just north of the city, this museum features several interesting exhibitions in a beautiful setting close to the Øresund.

If you peer across the water, you can see Sweden

Louisiana features works of conceptual and contemporary art from all corners of the globe, with various events — including concerts — also taking place throughout the year. Outside, you’ll find an intriguing sculpture park.

Like many museums in Copenhagen, Louisiana is very child-friendly. In fact, the institution has an entire dedicated children’s wing — where your offspring can participate in numerous workshops.

The museum also has a café with an extensive menu, which is priced pretty well by Danish standards.

Tickets to Louisiana cost 145 DKK for adults and 125 DKK for students. You can also buy a membership pass and — if you bring a guest — can get a discounted ticket for them. Tickets are available to purchase online.

You can also book a private tour if you prefer a more exclusive visit.

Designmuseum Danmark

The Danish Architecture Museum is one of our favorite places to learn about why Denmark is a powerhouse in global design, but Designmuseum Danmark gives it a run for its money. And if we look at things from a non-architectural perspective, one could argue that it’s an even better choice.

Designmuseum Danmark features several exhibitions throughout the year, though it’s under renovation at the time of writing and will reopen in June 2022. You’ll also find a café and an extensive collection of various design-related things in the online archive.

The Danish Design Museum is located not far from Kongens Nytorv and is also within touching distance of Marmorkirken. You can choose between single-entry tickets and annual cards; prices are not displayed on the website at the time of writing in February 2022 but will be once it reopens.

Museums In Copenhagen
Credit: Leif Jørgensen

Københavns Museum

So far, most of the museums we’ve covered look at Denmark’s history as a country. But since you’re in Copenhagen, it makes sense to learn a little about the capital — right?

Good news: you can at Københavns Museum, also known as the Museum of Copenhagen in English.

The Museum of Copenhagen has a permanent exhibition that features various artifacts crossing multiple millennia. In addition to that, you’ll find numerous smaller ones — plus workshops that you and your children can get involved in. If you want to learn more with a guide, you can also book a tour. 

You can buy entry tickets online; these cost 90 DKK for adults. Children under 18 years go for free, and you can also waive the entry fee if you visit on a Wednesday.

Museums In Copenhagen
Credit: Mellanie Gandø | Visit Copenhagen

Copenhagen Contemporary

One of the undisputed best museums in Copenhagen is Copenhagen Contemporary. The center used to be placed close to Nyhavn but has since relocated to the trendy Refshaløen area.

As you might have guessed from the name, Copenhagen Contemporary features multiple modern art exhibitions. You’ll find art crossing multiple subgenres, including photography and drawing.

Getting to the museum is pretty simple. From the city center, you can hop on the water bus to Refshalsvej and walk the remainder of the way. Alternatively, it’s a peaceful and straightforward bike ride from Christianshavn.

Tickets to Copenhagen Contemporary cost 120 DKK for adults. If you’re a student or pensioner, you can gain entry for 75 DKK instead. Children up to 18 can visit without paying, and those under 12-years-old need to have an adult with them.

In addition to single entry, you can also purchase an annual pass. These cost 250 DKK for adults; that rate is halved for students and seniors.

Nikolaj Kunsthal

Nikolaj Kunsthal is easy to miss — mainly because the building is so grand that it’s impossible for some to think that it’s a museum. Located in one of Copenhagen’s most beautiful church buildings, this art center is a must-see for anyone visiting the Danish capital.

Like Copenhagen Contemporary, Nikolaj Kunsthal features a wide range of contemporary art and has several intriguing exhibitions worth checking out. You can usually visit the tower and get an excellent view over the Danish capital, too, but this is currently closed for renovation.

Nikolaj Kunsthal is close to Christiansborg Palace and just off Strøget, which is Copenhagen’s main shopping street. Entry for adults costs 90 DKK, with children aged 3-17 going for 30 DKK. Entry is free on Wednesdays.

ARKEN Museum for Modern Art

In the Greater Copenhagen area, you’ll find the ARKEN Museum for Modern Art. This museum is located just south of the capital in Ishøj, and its prominent modern structure is unmissable.

ARKEN’s interior is just as beautiful — if not even more — than the outside. You’ll find various modern art installations that portray artists’ take on social issues, plus much more. The museum has a mixture of permanent and temporary exhibitions.

Just outside ARKEN, Ishøj beach is an excellent place to relax on a warm summer’s day. Inside, you’ll find a café with a beautiful view of the sea.

To get to ARKEN, you can take a direct train to Ishøj — which is roughly 25 minutes from Central Copenhagen. From there, it’s a 30-minute walk or a 12-minute bike ride.

Entry tickets to ARKEN cost 140 DKK for adults and 119 DKK for students. Children under 18 go for free.

Frilandsmuseet

If you’ve ever been to Stockholm before, you’ll probably be familiar with the iconic Skansen Open Air Museum. Denmark has a similar concept in Aarhus, which is known as Den Gamle By.

However, you don’t need to leave the Copenhagen area to simultaneously enjoy some fresh air and put your cultural hat on. Just north of the city center in Lyngby, you’ll find Frilandsmuseet — a favorite with adults and children alike.

Frilandsmuseet feels like stepping back in time. You’ll find traditional Danish architecture, people dressed in clothes from once upon a time, and plenty of space to roam — plus much more.

Getting to Frilandsmuseet from Copenhagen is easy. The best option is to take the S-train to Sorgenfri before walking the rest of the way. On the train, it’ll take you roughly 25 minutes; the walk is an additional 15.

Museums In Copenhagen
Credit: Ib Rasmussen

The Danish Music Museum

Denmark’s music history might not be as famous globally as neighboring Sweden, but that doesn’t mean it’s non-existent. After all, who could forget the timeless classic “Barbie Girl” (even if they desperately want to forget it)?

If you want to learn more about Danish music, there’s no better place to do so than at the Danish Music Museum. Conveniently enough, it’s right opposite Forum — one of the country’s most important venues for concerts and other cultural events.

The Danish Music Museum dates back to 1898. Here, you can try various musical instruments first-hand — but that’s not all. You’ll find a significant collection of other violins, pianos, guitars, and more from all corners of the planet.

In addition to trying older instruments, the museum has a new space where you and your children can try out voice recordings and much more.

The Danish Music Museum is on the outer edges of Frederiksberg and not far from The Lakes. To get here, take the metro to Forum and cross the street.

Entry tickets for adults cost 70 DKK, and a family ticket is priced at 55 DKK. Under-18s don’t need to pay to visit the museum.

Museums In Copenhagen
Credit: Ramblersen

The Police Museum

How does learning about the people who keep Copenhagen’s streets safe from the bad guys sound? If you answered “good”, that’s exactly what you can do at the Police Museum in Nørrebro.

At Politimuseet, you can discover some of Denmark’s most famous crime cases — along with learning about some of the country’s worst lawbreakers. The museum also has various activities for children to take part in, meaning they won’t get bored when they aren’t in school.

The Police Museum is in the inner part of Nørrebro and not far from Nørrebrogade. You can get the metro or S-train to Nørreport and walk; alternatively, it’s a short bike ride from the city center.

Entry to the museum is free for children. If you’re an adult, you’ll pay 60 DKK.

Museums In Copenhagen
Credit: Ib Rasmussen

Krigsmuseet

These days, Denmark is one of the world’s most peaceful countries — and it’s hard to imagine anything big kicking off here. But it wasn’t always that way; the country has taken part in several wars throughout history, especially with neighboring Sweden.

At Krigsmuseet, you can learn all about Denmark’s history in wars — from its older ones right up to involvement in more recent conflicts in the likes of Iraq and Afghanistan. The museum has an extensive outdoor area that features cannons for your kids to run across and look down, along with exhibitions about the Danish navy and more.

Krigsmuseet is located in Central Copenhagen and not far from the Black Diamond. If you were to bike from the main square, it would take you around five minutes or so.

Entry to the museum costs 80 DKK for adults, and a season pass costs 175 DKK. Children under 18 go for free.

Museums in Copenhagen are varied and well worth exploring

If you were to ask us to pick a favorite from the museums in Copenhagen that we’ve listed, it would be a tricky task, to say the least. Denmark’s largest city has several fantastic places to check out, and the fact that many of them receive state funding goes to show that the country’s notoriously high tax rate is used for the greater good.

Regardless of what you’re interested in, you can guarantee that you’ll find something that meets your needs. And if you’re looking for free museums in Copenhagen, many of those we’ve listed have specific days where you can enter without paying.

Copenhagen is abundant in activities to fill your free time. If you come to live here, you’ll have plenty of that; Denmark is famed worldwide for its emphasis on work-life balance.

Many locals enjoy treating themselves in a spa, and the Danish capital has plenty to choose from. Why not read our article and book an experience at one of them?

Scandification: Discovering Scandinavia.

Now read these:
Amazing things to do in Copenhagen
What is Copenhagen famous for?
Best tourist attractions in Copenhagen
The best parks in Copenhagen
How expensive is Copenhagen?
Michelin dining in Copenhagen
Just how safe is Copenhagen?
Interesting facts about Denmark

Scandification explores and celebrates the magic of Scandinavia. Stay tuned and we’ll bring the essence of Scandinavia to you.

Advertising enquiries

Scandification explores and celebrates the magic of Scandinavia. To advertise your brand to a global audience, contact our advertising team below.

advertising@scandification.com